January 6, 2006

Submitted for your approval

There was an interesting post at Moonbattie's place earlier this week. She mentioned that she liked to lay her head down on a cool table when she was sad or stressed. I am the same way. I mentioned that it was interesting that we seek coolness in times of stress instead of heat. One would think we would instinctively seek warmth -- return to the womb.

I remembered an essay I wrote many years ago. It is the second entry in a weathered notebook I used to write short stories and snippets of fiction. The notebooks once white cover is now yellowed with age, and the ink scratchings of my poor handwriting are fading with time. I will not offer any suggestions of the quality of writing, but I think this peace sums up the calming effects of nighttime and the cold of winter. I have not edited the content. The entire piece was written stream of conscious very late in the night as I sat looking out the window. What you read is exactly what I wrote that winter night. This entry is dated December 18, 1981:

What is it about a cold winter night? It seems so comforting, so secure. The pristine snow seems to envelope you like a hot shower. Uncomfortable, yet so soothing you never want to leave. The cold surrounds you and makes you realize how insignificant you are. A winter night is very different from the hot, muggy nights of summer. A winter night is silent. The sound of flakes hitting the layers of snow already on the ground is deafening. It is the silence that makes your thoughts spring alive in a torrent of ideas and images. Plans for the future or longing for the past race through that mysterious mass of gray matter called your brain. Sometimes you think of nothing. You find yourself walking, walking, never knowing why or where. It is as if you are in the middle of a play with no characters, no plot, no setting. It is a deep void of nothingness -- a temporary black hole of your imagination. Instead of thoughts springing out, they seem to go inward, recede into the back of your brain. Just you alone with your thoughts and God. Perhaps they are the same. It is the silence. Late at night, after the snow has fallen for hours and the town is lulled into a gentle sleep by the icy silence, the snow becomes like canvass, unmarred by brush. Images of a thousand varieties can be conjured in your mind and mentally painted on the snow. The gusty winds blow the snow around like thousands of miniature chorus girls upon a stage. They swirl to the left, dart to the right and climb upward for a soft decent, these snowflakes. Suddenly you come back to reality. The clock's incessant ticking, the sounds of breathing from the other room are heard. It seems impossible to find the bliss and comfort promised by the night. The worries and problems of your world, your own little microcosm, weigh heavily on your mind. Ah, to be away from it all. You imagine the trapper alone in the high Rockies -- perhaps seeing land never seen by white man before -- and you wonder if he too had ever drifted off into that thoughtless void in his musings by the fire a century and a half ago?

There! See how easy it is? The world has escaped you again. You feel yourself getting ready to ask a deep philosophical question you know has no answer like "what is happiness"? It cannot be held back you know, no matter how hard you try. How DO we know if we are happy? Is it an all the time thing, or are you allowed to be sad and melancholy sometimes? What is it about a cold winter night, when everyone is asleep, that makes the mind wander so? You find yourself lying in bed, never comfortable. You try imagining all sorts of things to tire your mind, to make yourself sleep. First you are too cold. Then the heat is unbearable. Finally, you get up and stare into the lovely darkness of solitude. Suddenly, you become aware it is becoming light. Another night has gone by. You wonder just what it was you used so many of the precious hours of life thinking on. Then it occurs to you -- nothing. Nothing at all. You remember this every now and then as you emerged from your daze like a drowning man's head from the water. You gasped for air, asked yourself another question, then went back under. So serene, so quiet and peaceful. It must be like death. Surely you must have pondered about death in your late night musings. If you have a thought on life, then you must have a thought on death, for they are one and the same. To use a worn out phrase "you cannot have one without the other", or "two peas in a pod", that sort of rubbish. Get the idea? Death may not be so bad. I am sort of curious what it is like. Is being alive here being dead elsewhere? Perhaps we are existing in a Heaven or Hell of another dimension, another world.

The snow is getting deeper. Maybe that explains the silence. All of the sounds of the summer night have been frozen by winter and covered by an icy blanket of snow, only to be uncovered and thawed by spring. Oh, what is it about a cold winter night.

There you have the unedited thoughts of a pretentious, insomniac nineteen year old. Sadly, my writing skills have not improved over time.

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